Travelers can pick up infectious diseases from contaminated food or water, from insect bites, animal bites, or from other people. Immunisations, medications, and simple precautions can reduce or eliminate the risks of many of these travel-related infections.
To have an enjoyable trip, it is best to be prepared with the essentials to minimise disruption to the trip.
To pack a travel kit with medicines and first aid can come in handy for common ailments and injuries that may happen during your trip. Speak to your pharmacist to prepare your travel kit today!
What should be in the travel kit?
- Pain relief/ fever medicines
- Antihistamines for allergies
- Runny and blocked nose medicines
- Cough medicines
- Motion sickness or nausea medicines
- Sore throat lozenges
- Charcoal and/or diarrhoea medicines
- Oral rehydration salts
- Regular prescription medicines, if any
First Aid List
- Antiseptic cream/ solution
- Blister plasters
- Wound dressings
- Insect repellents containing DEET
Depending on your travel destination, the vaccination(s) required will differ. Speak to your pharmacist to find out which vaccinations are required for your destination.
Common vaccinations include:
- Hepatitis A
A condition when there is liver inflammation caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is transmitted by food or drink that was contaminated with the stool of a person with the infection.
- Hepatitis B
A condition when the liver is infected by the Hepatitis B virus, which can result in liver scarring, failure and cancer. It can be transmitted via body fluids like blood or saliva.
- Typhoid and paratyphoid fever
Fever caused by the bacterium, Salmonella typhi accompanied with headache, constipation, tiredness, chills and muscle pain. It is transmitted by food or drink that was contaminated with the stool of a person with the infection.
Other Travel Tips
Drink water from trusted sources. Always try to drink bottled water or boiled water (check if the tap water is safe for consumption). Water purification tablets are also available at the pharmacy.
When traveling overseas, keep a look out for the hygiene standards of the eateries.
Symptoms of food poisoning can start within hours of eating contaminated food. These often include nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Food poisoning is usually mild and resolves with minimum treatment.
Seek medical attention when experiencing:
- Excessive diarrhoea and/or vomiting
- Blood or mucus in stool
- Severe dehydration
- Meningococcal diseaseA condition when the meninges found in the brain are inflamed due to the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis. It can be transmitted via respiratory or throat secretions like saliva or spit, etc.
- Yellow feverAn illness caused by the virus, Flavirus which exhibits signs and symptoms like high fever, bleeding in the skin, kidney/liver cell death and jaundice. It is transmitted in most cases by a bite of an infected mosquito.
- RabiesA condition when the virus, Rhabdovirus attacks the central nervous system, resulting in fever, muscle ache, headache or in severe cases, inflammation of the brain, confusion, seizure, coma and death. It is transmitted when a person is bitten by an infected wild animal.
- Japanese encephalitisIt is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese Encephalitis Virus with mild symptoms like fever or headache or in severe cases, coma and seizures. It is transmitted only by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Essential medicines specific to travel destinations
Altitude sickness is a collection of symptoms that can happen when you walk or climb to a higher altitude too quickly.
The symptoms experienced will differ from person to person and can be prevented primarily by acclimatisation, ascending slowly to allow the body to get used to the changes in air pressure. Medicines can also be used to prevent and reduce the symptoms experienced but may not be suitable for everyone.
It is a preventable and curable disease caused by parasites and transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It can be found in some parts of Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific.
For malarial prevention, it is crucial to avoid mosquito bites. Therefore, it is recommended to use an insect repellant containing DEET. Further prevention methods include the use of mosquito net when sleeping and wearing light coloured, long sleeved tops and pants.
There are medicines that can prevent malaria. As there are different anti-malarial medicines available and each travel destination may require a different medicine, speak to your pharmacist to understand better.